It is now almost a year since the Tonse Alliance-led administration assumed power and, since then, President Lazarus Chakwera appears to have struck all the right chords that have resonated well with the aspirations of Malawians. It is pretty clear that this government is enjoying a lot of goodwill from the citizenry, who are urging it on so that everyone can get to reap the fruits in due course.
That is where the question lies; when exactly is due (harvest) time? The country has not gone to sleep and this should always be at the back of the mind of our leaders and public officials. The awakening we witnessed prior to the Tonse Alliance is pretty much still in effect. That means regardless of the Covid-19 pandemic that has turned lives upside down, people are patiently waiting and holding on to the promises that the Tonse Alliance, led by Chakwera and Vice President Saulos Chilima, made at the cusp of assuming power. We yearned for political change for too long and, now that we have it, everything should easily fall in line.
This is why I found some sense in the reaction to President Chakwera’s State of the Nation Address (Sona) by Leader of the Opposition in Parliament, Kondwani Nankhumwa, who pointed out that the time to create the promised one million jobs is now and that there should be no segregation when it comes to dishing out loans to the youth. Not only that, the elderly are equally awaiting the day when they will start receiving a monthly upkeep allowance as promised.
It is just as good that he touched on the subject of the stinking corruption which, if truth be told, goes way back to the days of the Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) administration. But we need not worry much because all the cobwebs will soon be cleared in as far as corruption is concerned since we now have a new general in town: Anti- Corruption Bureau (ACB) chief Martha Chizuma.
But for the battle to be won, deliberate steps have to be taken to ensure that we create an enabling environment for Chizuma to meet the lofty expectations of Malawians, who equally fought tooth and nail to ensure that she lands the job she is so good at, despite pockets of resistance.
This can be done by meeting the staffing needs of the bureau; getting adequate lawyers and prosecutors, mounting a serious public awareness campaign by engaging more civic education personnel and, most importantly, throwing incentives and adequate funding.
On loss of jobs and economic downturn, there is no need to harp much on this as the situation is much the same worldwide; save that developed countries who have the financial muscle have started making inroads a few months after activating their recovery plans. That is not to say that we should completely turn a blind eye to our fortunes because, just like Britain did, we too can surely manage to pump incentives into some entrepreneurial exploits by some traders (be they formal or informal) because such activities feed into the overall economic activities we undertake as Malawi.
Certainly, Martin Luther King Junior had a dream for the United States, just as the late Dr Hastings Kamuzu Banda and late Bingu wa Mutharika had for Malawi and there is a need for present day leaders to run with such dreams so that they can be fulfilled. Let us dream in colour about Malawi’s economic transformation but then, while doing that, we should not find ourselves into delirium state.
It is shocking that after over 26 years of multiparty democracy, there is little to show in terms of economic and infrastructure development, when we ought to have built on the solid foundations that Kamuzu laid down. At least Bingu tried and there are clear signs that Chakwera means business as well but time, Mr President, is ticking; we needed to start running with the vision as in yesterday.
It was pleasing to see President Chakwera on Kamuzu Day acknowledging the great work that both Kamuzu and Bingu did in trying to change the face of the country and what would be more exciting for the President will be for him to actually add to the achievement of the two aforementioned leaders while he is serving, unlike his predecessor who was synonymous with laying of foundation stones for ‘ghost’ projects.
Let us hope that the report which the Vice President presented to Chakwera yesterday on changes in the public sector marks the take-off point for this administration in as far as implementing tangible developmental projects is concerned. Just like life, leadership is a relay race and President Chakwera needs to quicken his pace on the field now because Malawians are pretty sure that he has gained the needed momentum to run with the development dream hatched by the Tonse Alliance.
Stephen Dakalira is a seasoned Journalist who works as Times Group’s Online and Digital Executive Editor. He is also the Assistant Editor of The Sunday Times Newspaper, and author of Full Circle column which appears in Malawi News; all of these under the Times Group stable.
He has previously worked in key positions for some of Malawi’s key media institutions such as Malawi News Agency, Capital FM Radio and Star Radio (Now Timveni Radio).